A Place Called Serenity; Il Vecchio Detto Chico (The Old Man Named Chico) - Part 2

Chico made a meager living from his garden.

“He was there, Doc,” Dickie said. “He was right there.” Dickie pointed to a spot where the hoe laid.

Doc’s head turned to the wagon. The door was open. “You wait here,” Doc said and he moved quickly up the steps and looked inside. “Chico. It’s Doc. Ya okay?”

“Vattene, Vattene, mio vecchio amico,” Chico said weakly.

“I don’t know what he said,” Doc said. “But run ta yer place and call for a doctor.”

Fifteen minutes passed when a black Chevy station wagon sped down the road that led to Serenity, a huge plume of dust behind it.

Doc Siders, a round man with thinning hair and perspiration under the armpits of his white shirt emerged frantically from the car with a black leather bag.

He was inside the wagon for nearly and hour as a large crowd gathered in the lane that curled in front of Chico’s wagon.

Doc Siders finally emerged from the wagon. He was surprised to see a crowd of nearly twenty people, mostly children. “He won’t go to the hospital. Is there anybody who can look in on him?”

Doc stepped forward, “I’m a Doc, I can take care of ‘im.”

“You a doctor?” Doc Siders asked.

“That’s my name from the hollars,” Doc said. “Where I’m from I’s the only one people had. I learned from my momma. If it’s his heart I’ll give him spoon full of a mixture apple cider vinegar and honey three times a day.”

Doc Siders mouth curled down and he nodded approvingly. “Sure do that, but give him two aspirin at night.” Doc Siders reached inside his bag and handed a bottle of pills to Doc. “If he has chest pain slip one of these under his tongue.”

“You can depend on me,” Doc said.

“I’ll help ya Doc,” Dickie said.

“He’s going to need some help,” Doc Siders said. “Maybe fix some meals for him and help him around. Is there somebody that can do that?”

Everyone stepped forward with their hands raised.

“That’s good,” Doc Siders said. “Just one at a time though.”

“Do we owe you anything?” Doc said.

He smiled. “No, no, that’s okay.”

The wagon rocked from side to side. “Veini qui, veini qui, Doc” Chico said from inside.

“Me or you,” Doc Siders said. “It must be me. He’d never talk that way to a real doctor.”

Doc and Doc Siders went to the door of the wagon. Chico handed a hand basket to Doc. “Thanka you docta. I hava no mon ta pay, but you a can picka some a tomata. You watcha him Doc that he sticka none in a his pocket.”

Within a few days Chico was able to leave his wagon. He sat in a chair next to the wagon and supervised Doc and Dickie tending to his garden. He was hard to work for. On a couple of occasions Doc called for a work stoppage if he didn’t stop cursing at him and Dickie in Italian.

“Howa you know I curse ata you, Doc,” Chico said. “You a so smarta you understand Italian. Only smarta people know Italian.”

“If it were good you was a callin’ down on us you’d say it in plain English,” Doc said.

“Italian eez such a beautifula language, ita would not a sounda the same ina English,” Chico said.